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UNGA adopts historic resolution on climate justice

Published : 31 Mar 2023 10:55 PM

The UN General Assembly has adopted a consensus resolution requesting the International Court of Justice to provide advisory opinion on the obligations of States in respect of climate change. 

The resolution, tabled by a core group of countries including Bangladesh, is a landmark achievement for countries advocating for climate justice and equity.

Introduced by the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, the resolution requests the ICJ to provide its opinion based on existing international law including international human rights law and the recognised principles, the legal obligations of the States to ensure the protection of climate system and the rights of the present and future generations to be protected from the effects of climate change.

The ICJ is also requested to advise on the legal consequences of the acts or omissions that have caused significant harm to the climate system with respect to the States that are, due to their geographical circumstances and level of development, are injured or specially affected by or are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen represented the Bangladesh delegation to the session. 

In his statement, he stated that, “despite clear warnings on the devastating and irreversible threats of climate change, global response to climate change is nowhere close to what is needed for the survival of humanity. This resolution and the subsequent advisory opinion will provide better understanding of the legal obligations of States in respect of climate change and rights of affected States and the people to be protected from climate change.”

 Noting that the Court’s advisory opinions have tremendous importance, the Secretary General in his remarks stated that such an opinion, if and when given, would assist the General Assembly, the UN and Member States, to take the bolder and stronger climate action that our world so desperately needs.

The resolution has received overwhelming support from the member States as well as international civil society organisations, including climate activists and the youth. 

The core group, founded by Vanuatu, led an intense campaign throughout the process which included multiple negotiations with the broader UN membership in an open and transparent manner. Bangladesh, as a member of the core group, remained actively engaged in the drafting and negotiations process as well as in the outreach efforts.

“This is a defining moment for climate justice. We are thankful to the member States for their interest and engagement throughout the process, which testifies their deep commitment towards addressing the climate crisis”, said the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh Ambassador Muhith, who played an instrumental role in securing support from a number of key member States.

Later in the evening the Foreign Secretary participated in a reception organised by Vanuatu to celebrate the adoption of the resolution.